“To the little boy riding his bike at 11pm, who came up to my car window to sell his drawings on white lined paper, while I was writing poems in between my deliveries — on the 16 hour shift”

I jump up,

caught between the lines, I haven’t even bothered to put my car in park.

Shocked, that there’s a little boy riding his bike at 11 o’clock.

In the dark.

Reach over and roll down my window in response to his light knock. Like a ghost. With blond wild curls and tanned skin. Green eyes. A kid who will never quite

Fit in

To the storyline they write

of black or white.

Pick a side.

I recognize his accent. It’s thick, but his words tell me that he’s somewhere

Caught

between America and

Another land. What his family must have done to get here…

“Do you want to buy a picture” he asks? “They glow in the dark.”

I don’t ask where his mother is. I don’t even bother thinking of

a father.

I just want to know how much he’s charging for his funny cartoons in pencil.

They’re good. There’s one with a black cat on a roof. Another with a girl crying by what looks like a lake. Another with a boy who looks like he’s

in flames.

I almost catch my breath. It’s so prophetic.

“A dollar”

“That’s all you want? You should really value your art.”

I slip him a 20. Ask him if he’s

hungry?

He nods his head. Yes.

“Any allergies?”

“Nuts”

Then I call my boys back at the spot and tell them to fire up the grill. Even though we’re closed. Ali’s worked two jobs today and just wants me to give him a ride home.

I explain.

The grill’s back on.

“Wait right here. Don’t move an inch.”

I go quick, wondering if I’m dreaming. But I’m not. The sirens that wiz by me let me know,

This is reality. I’m in my car, really driving. And he is really,

A boy.

He’s sitting on the curb when I return. Sketching something new. It a woman

with a halo.

He says,

“Thank you”

And I say, “no thank you. But do me a favor…

go home.

No more walking up to strangers cars in the dark. There are

predators

who will snatch a beautiful talented young boy like you, up.”

“What’s a predator?” His eyes get darker. He looks confused.

“Usually, but not always, a man who looks very friendly, says all the right things, to make you believe that he cares about you. That he’s going to help you, or love you. He may try and hurt you instead. I don’t want you to be scared

I just want you to understand.

Do you understand?”

He says,

“Yes”.

And I hug him. Tell him to keep on drawing. He’s so good. And so brave, to walk up to

Strangers

That way…

Then I leave, wondering if I did the right thing…

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